Michael Woodhead

A GUIDE TO THE BEST IN CINEMA THRILLS

John Howard Reid
Lulu Books
2009
978-0-557-12223-3
Film

They don't make them like they used to do. And reading through this compendium of some of the best "mystery, suspense, film noir and detective movies on DVD" reminded me of that.

In many cases, these films were made under the studio system, whereby the scripts were tailored to the actors' strengths and personalities. This is one reason why many of the old films were so good.

The author has brought together outlines of hundreds of them, each complete with a cast list, the major production staff, copyright and release notices, story synopsis, and his own personal comment about the film.

Also embellishing some of the outlines are dozens of black-and-white photos, as well as a lengthy but well-written article on "noir, crime and mystery". Several other shorter articles are included, aimed at those interested in the genres--the best Sherlock Holmes, and Raymond Chandler as adapted for the movies, for example.

Reid has done a marvelous job putting these all together, thus taking a lot of the legwork out of trying to locate these movies for our viewing pleasure--he includes a small list of DVD suppliers where many of these films can be purchased at very reasonable prices.

Many titles will be familiar; for example, The Maltese Falcon. However, those same people who recognize it might not realize that there were at least four adaptations of Dashiell Hammett's 1929 five-part serial; two of the movies are included in the book, one starring Ricardo Cortez, the other with Humphrey Bogart.

Other titles, of course, won't be so familiar.

There are some fascinating anecdotes, too. For example, for the movie Odd Man Out, "director Carol Reed asked the composer to write the score from the shooting script and record it, so that [James] Mason could walk in time to the beat". Such tidbits encourage readers to find copies of the films in order to see for themselves how they accomplished things.

So, for the lover of vintage thriller movies, this book would make an ideal and extremely informative purchase.


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